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The Spot Writers – “Achievemephobia” by Phil Yeats

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: “Awakening from a bad dream or, even worse, a nightmare.”

Today’s post comes from Phil Yeats. In December, Phil (using his Alan Kemister pen name) published his most recent novel. Tilting at Windmills, the second in the Barrettsport Mysteries series of soft-boiled police detective stories set in an imaginary Nova Scotia coastal community is available on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/Tilting-Windmills-Barrettsport-Mysteries-Book-ebook/dp/B07L5WR948/

*****

Achievemephobia by Phil Yeats

 

Alan awoke with his heart pounding. Had lightening or thunder disturbed him, or was it a noise in his apartment? He lay in bed listening as his heartbeat slowed. The electric heat ticked, the fridge hummed, and somewhere, water dripped. Outside his windows, the night appeared benign.

Did a dream wake him? He only remembered the vaguest details of dreams, and those details invariably surfaced slowly.

Alan thought back to the previous evening. He’d sat in bed finishing the first draft of a chapter for his new book, then checked his email, his social media sites, and did some web surfing.

He lifted the lid of his laptop and tapped the space bar. It didn’t come to life. He hadn’t fallen asleep while surfing. He’d shut it down, not abandoned it to go into sleep mode.

An image of the cover of his first novel flooded his consciousness, emerging like an old Polaroid print on the very popular ReaderGuy blog. An annoying flashing banner pronounced it mystery novel of the month. Was that the problem? Had the ReaderGuy discovered his totally obscure self-published novel?

If he did, the notoriety and attention it brought would be a disaster. It would bring sales, the ReaderGuy trumpeted the fact his book of the month designations increased sales by hundreds, even thousands. They brought many struggling writers a lifeline they really appreciated.

But Alan didn’t covet sales. He desired nothing more than publishing the book and giving or selling a few copies to writing colleagues and the odd stranger. And he detested thoughts of media attention. The last thing he wanted was a reporter from the local newspaper interviewing him. And the possibility of a book review in the Globe and Mail—God forbid.

As his sleep-befuddled brain activity improved, he realized the flaw in his logic. If he’d seen such a posting on the ReaderGuy’s site, he would have remained awake all night worrying.

Alan grabbed his laptop, fired it up, and Googled Amazon.com books. When the Amazon site came up, he entered Tilting at Windmills in the search bar and hit enter. He scrolled down the thumbnail pictures of books with the same title until he found his familiar cover picture.

On the electronic version’s page, he scrolled down to the sales rankings and checked its position. One million, six hundred and eighty-five thousand, four hundred and twenty-three—what he expected for a book that hadn’t sold a copy for several months. When he checked, the paperback ranking was equally dismal.

He sighed as he returned the computer to the nightstand. No sales meant it was a dream, a real nightmare, but nothing that actually happened. He could sleep without worrying about reporters calling at all hours.

*****

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.com/

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C.A. MacKenzie is the author of (among other books) the novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama/thriller, available from the author or at various retailers including Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/].
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Cover Contest!

WOLVES DON’T KNOCK has successfully entered the third round of the Cover of the Month contest (AllAuthor.com). It has amassed 62 votes so far and is among the top 50 book covers of the month. (The final round will narrow it down to the top 24 covers). I truly don’t expect to advance much further, but it’s not in my  nature to give up.

The online voting for the third round is now open. You can vote again in this round. (I believe you can vote every day). Please take a few seconds to vote for me! Thank you!

WOLVES DON’T KNOCK is a psychological drama/thriller, with suspense, mystery, romance, and family relationships. Twenty-two-year-old Miranda escapes from her abductor and the wolves that have tormented her soul for six long years. She returns to her childhood home where her mother, Sharon, caring for Miranda’s son, Kevin, has feared for her daughter’s fate. Uncertainty and distrust taint the first year after Miranda’s return. Miranda and Sharon hide secrets they dare not reveal while constantly wondering when Miranda’s kidnapper will reappear. Can mother and daughter bury their demons and repair their strained relationship? Can Miranda bond with the baby she never knew and find the love she so desperately wants? Will Kevin’s father play a role? Will Sharon find the answers she needs to recover from her own troubled past?

WOLVES DON’T KNOCK is available direct from me or on Amazon.

 

To Purchase!

 

Wolves Don't Knock FINAL PRINT COVER

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The Spot Writers –

Welcome to The Spot Writers. This month’s prompt: Newspapers and news sites show a plethora of depressing stuff from floods and wildfires and other environmental problems, to mass shootings, to refugee problems and other political and social crises. Write a story focused on a depressing occurrence and give it a happy ending.

This week’s story comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Cathy’s novel, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, is available from her locally or on Amazon, to great reviews.

https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Dont-Knock-C-MacKenzie/dp/1927529387/

***

Downtown Meetings by Cathy MacKenzie

“Did you go downtown this morning?” Simon asked, entering the kitchen.

I jerked around from the counter, dropping the dishtowel as I did so. “Why?”

“I saw you driving down Main Street with the top down.”

The top down? I breathed a sigh of relief. “Nope, not me.”

“It sure looked like you.”

“You know I never have the top down when I’m alone.”

“And why is that?”

“Because it’s presumptuous. Like I’m flaunting. You know I hate attention.”

He laughed. “Well, it looked like you.”

“When did you think you saw me?” I bent over to pick up the towel, glad to have something in my hands.

“Oh, I guess it was around eleven or so. I had to go to a meeting on Churchill.”

“Wasn’t me. There’s lots of red mustangs.”

“Yeah, I know.” He wrapped his arms around my shoulders and kissed me. When he broke away, he asked, “What’s for dinner?”

“Meat loaf.” Simon’s favourite.

After dinner, he disappeared downstairs to his man cave.

I plonked to the kitchen chair. Scary stuff, that was. Had he seen me in my red Mustang with the top up, trying to catch me in a lie? No, he had no inkling.

My life was simple and carefree, with very few problems as compared to those who endure such catastrophes as forest fires, tornados, and hurricanes. Why did I want to create a disastrous situation when there was no need for one? Simon was a perfect husband and provider. Sure, we had the odd spat—what married couple didn’t? I should be more grateful for him and my life.

I finished the dishes and headed to the bedroom, intending to read in bed. Instead, I pondered, unable to concentrate on the book. Sweat poured over me, and I threw off the blanket. What had I been thinking? Could I have gone through with it?

If Simon had actually seen a woman resembling me in a car similar to mine, what a cruel coincidence. I very rarely drive downtown. What a fluke he’d been there the same morning I was.

I hadn’t been attracted to Rob, not with his receding hairline, paunchy belly, and seventies-style clothing. Not up to my standards, for sure, and I should have exited the mall immediately when I saw him—the guy who waited by the fountain. Despite my initial reaction, we enjoyed conversation over lunch. I was taken aback when he mentioned his wife and how it would kill her if she discovered he’d been hooking up with other women.

Gee, what should he expect? He had joined Dates & Mates, a local dating site, specifically for sexual partners. It would kill Simon, too, if he ever found out I was a member. But this was my first time. Rob was the first anonymous guy I’d connected with online, the first guy I’d met in person.

“She never wants it anymore,” Rob had said. “She has a condition.” He rattled off the medical term, which was foreign to me.

I had almost blurted, “So, because she can’t—or won’t—engage in sex that gives you permission to seek sex elsewhere?” But I kept my mouth shut. Who was I to talk? I was as bad as he was.

I wondered what sort of marriage Rob had, and that’s what had knocked the sense into me, thinking of his innocent, unsuspecting wife at home, waiting for her husband, not knowing of his double life.

This was all foreign to me. Cheating and lies. And what about my love for Simon, my husband of ten years? Didn’t he deserve better? I had thought I needed excitement in my life, but I already had the best husband. I didn’t want another. It was pure luck Simon hadn’t caught me.

Suddenly, I was cold and yanked the covers over me. Minutes later I heard Simon coming up the stairs. He would keep me warm, as he always did.

***

 The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Phil Yeats: https://alankemisterauthor.wordpress.com

Chiara De Giorgi: https://chiaradegiorgi.blogspot.ca/

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Writer Wednesdays

I’ve started a new feature on my blog. Every Wednesday, I plan to showcase one indie author. I’ve sent invites to my writer friends, and thus far, I’ve had a great response.

Of course, this is, I suppose, mostly self-gratuitous as I’m trying to promote my book, WOLVES DON’T KNOCK. But in the process, the authors who participate will be promoting their works, as well. And every little bit of advertising helps, right?

I’m doing this on a first-come, first-served basis. Wednesdays are booked for the next several weeks, but I don’t want “empty” Wednesdays while I wait for people to return the questions/answers, so I’m offering this to subscribers of my blog, too.

If you’d like to participate in “Writer Wednesdays,” send me an email (writingwicket at gmail.com) that you are interested. I will then forward you a list of questions to answer. Return them, along with a photo of yourself and a short bio, and voila! you’ll rate a spot on a future Wednesday. The only “catch” is that you must be a subscriber to my blog, which is a small price to “pay,” right?

I won’t have time to personally let everyone know the date of their interview, but since you, as a subscriber, receive an email every time I post to my site, you’ll see your interview when it appears. Thursdays are designated for The Spot Writers (an online, flash fiction group I belong to–free fiction!!!), and I might post one other day a week. With Writer Wednesdays, that makes, maybe, three posts a week. But the “delete” button is handy if you wish to ignore an email.

If you are reading this post and aren’t a subscriber, please subscribe. And if you want to be featured on a future Wednesday, email me at “writingwicket (at) gmail.com”.  I will  reply with the questions to be answered.

Happy Writer Wednesdays!

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C.A. MacKenzie is the author of WOLVES DON’T KNOCK, a psychological drama with elements of thriller, suspense, mystery, romance, and family dynamics. Buy it on Amazon. Also available locally from the author and at other retailers.

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The Spot Writers – “Suffice” by Dorothy Colinco

Welcome to The Spot Writers. September’s prompt:  Write about a character whose one ability is to amplify the best traits in others. Who would they hang around? Who would they choose to avoid?

***

Suffice by Dorothy Colinco

It’s hard to love someone who’s self-sufficient. Among the traits that you should avoid when seeking a potential life partner, self-sufficient seems pretty far down the list, far below convicted felon, substance abuser, Pirates fan, vegan, or lactose-intolerant. An inability to consume ice cream without later having to desecrate a powder room seems more offensive than the ability to exist without depending on another person for validation and security. And yet.

Ironically, her self-sufficiency is one of things I found most attractive about her. Here was a woman who told me about her flat tired AFTER she had changed it herself. Who saw Les Miserables alone rather than drag me to a musical. I hate musicals, but I loved her. I would’ve gone. When she had a bad day at work or a fight with her mom, she didn’t ask me to bring her wine and ice cream (yes, she could of course consume dairy) and lend her my shoulder to cry on. She just took a weekend for herself and called me three days later, refreshed and happy and content. I was ready and willing to do all those things. I’ve done worse for women I’ve cared less about. But she never asked that of me, asked anything of me, and for a while this hardly seemed something to complain about.

We were our best selves when we were together. She was warm and funny. She told jokes that were unexpectedly irreverent but never downright bawdy. She was so good at describing movies and books and albums. I always said she should be a pop culture writer, and one day she submitted an essay to this magazine and they published it. The first thing she ever sent out! She was kind. So kind, my goodness. Like that one time an autistic kid in the subway screamed at her for touching his shoulder when she said ‘excuse me,’ and the kid’s mom was mortified and apologetic but also very used to this kind of thing, and instead of backing away with a freaked look on her face, she chatted with the mom. not about the kid’s autism and ‘what’s it like to be a mom of a kid on the spectrum?’ No, she just chatted about stuff. I don’t even remember. And the mom was so grateful, you could tell.

We were our best selves together. But. I felt like I wasn’t giving enough of myself. She never asked me to sacrifice anything for her. And after all, isn’t that what makes up a good portion of a relationship? Resenting someone for all you’ve had to sacrifice for them, and then loving them anyway? I thought maybe as we fell deeper for each other that she would start to need me. To view me as essential to her existence. But instead, it seemed like our love had fastened her self-sufficiency to her core even more tightly. It made her more sure than ever of her adequacy as a distinct entity in this vast emptiness that is our existence.

It’s hard to love someone who’s self-sufficient.

***

The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Dorothy Colinco: www.dorothycolinco.com

CaraMarie Christy: https://calamariwriting.wordpress.com/

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TWO EYES OPEN!

TWO EYES OPEN anthology. Now available! A mix of 16 short stories by 16 authors. Not “horrific horror”…more like intrigue, mystery, thriller. Just a “good read”…
 
Available on Amazon, print and e-book:
Two Eyes Open FB

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INDIE AUTHOR EXTRAVAGANZA

 

 

indie-author-extravaganza

 

Indie Author Extravaganza, this Saturday, August 20, Halifax, Nova Scotia!

I’ll be there selling three books: OUT OF THE MIST (local writers group anthology); my personal anthology, OUT OF THE CAVE; and Tom Robson’s memoir, WRITTEN WHILE I STILL REMEMBER.

 

 

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The Spot Writers

This week’s post comes to us from Cathy MacKenzie, who writes mainly short stories and poems. The prompt this month for the Spot Writers is to write a short story including three of the following words: courage, car, obvious, sashay, checked, twitched.  Cathy used the following words: courage, car, obvious. She hopes you enjoy her story!

Check out her blog at: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/  Her books are available on Smashwords at:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/camack

 ***

Shadow Dance

At the restaurant, in between mouthfuls of Thai chicken bites and Caesar salad, I take stock of Dan, my husband. I’m startled to notice how much thicker—and darker— his hair seems. Has he died his white hair a tawny brown? His face—once etched with deep furrows and molted with red blotches—is smoother than I remembered. His burnished skin glows, like he’s spent too much time outdoors.

When we arrive home, I glimpse my own face in the hall mirror—a face I almost don’t recognize. I stare at the drawn reflection bordered with wispy whitish hair. Crows’ feet fan from the outer corners of my sunken eyes, and fleshy bags perch beneath dwindling lower lashes. My jowls sag like soggy dishrags pinned to the clothesline on a breezeless day.

When I sense Dan’s presence, I move away from the mirror. He stares at me like he hasn’t seen me before, just as I seemingly viewed him for the first time earlier at the restaurant. I want to hide my face in shame. Does he see tell-tale age on me? Will he search out someone younger? Or has he already?

Without a word, he turns and sprints to the garage to work on his vehicles, specifically his ’65 Mustang. He cherishes that car, caring for it like a mother would her newborn. I’ve spied on him in the past while he caressed its smooth, firm body. I’ve seen him tenderly slide a soapy cloth across the surface, and, after carefully spraying off the suds, lovingly rub on the oil paste like one would apply sunscreen over a svelte young woman. I’ve watched while he polished the frame to a radiant sheen.

I often wonder what goes through his mind while he continually kneads an ever-immaculate chassis into gloss shimmering like a new black patent shoe. Does he think of me? Someone else? Or is he too immersed to think of anything?

White I watch his backside vanishing down the hall, I debate whether to follow. Instead, I remain in the kitchen and gaze around the recently redecorated room—the stark black granite, the all-matching stainless steel appliances, the resurfaced cupboard doors—and wonder where life begins and ends. Similar to poofs of smoke on a windy day, my years disappeared too fast. What good are material possessions? What happens to things when we’re gone?

Where will that car go? Who will treasure that vehicle as my husband does?

More importantly, who will cherish me when he’s gone? He’ll depart first. If not, I’m certain I’ll live longer than a dratted car that gobbles up his time and money.

A force of courage propels me to again peer into the mirror. The features are displayed before me, etched for all time in that rectangle of recently Windexed glass. Mirrors don’t lie—they never did; they never will. My eyes can lower to hide what they don’t want to acknowledge; I can’t be scarred by what I can’t see, but, unfortunately, I’ve already seen it. I already know. Tearing out my eyes won’t make the years disappear. Time has taken its rightful place. Obvious age has attached itself, and there’s nothing left once those deadly talons have latched.

Maybe luck would have been on my side had Dan succeeded in blinding me that day many years ago. The searing liquid hit me square in the face, but didn’t penetrate into my eyes when my eyes instinctively closed tight. No one can touch that car of his—except him, of course; I learned that the hard way.

Perhaps not being blinded was my downfall. Had I been blinded that day, I wouldn’t be able to see today how I have morphed over the years. I’d forever remember me when I was twenty-five, when I was still desirable.

What happened a few minutes ago when Dan saw me by the mirror? Did he suddenly encounter an old woman instead of his once-young, pretty wife?  Or had he even seen my beauty those many years ago? Perhaps he’s only ever had eyes for his Mustang, for he’s owned that vehicle longer than me. That car’s family, after all. Not to mention the car has retained its beauty and grace throughout the years; its appearance has have never changed, thanks to his meticulousness.

I sneak down the hallway and open the door to the off-limits garage. The Mustang leers at me—the headlights glare and the grill sneers like fangs. The body shines as one titanic twinkling star, revealing reflections of youth and lust. At the far end of the triple-car garage, Dan holds a blow torch, hard at work on an old Chevy. He doesn’t hear the door’s creak nor does he see me enter the forbidden room.

When I stumble over a pile of car parts, I lunge to the Mustang rather than tumble to the concrete where I would chance a bone fracture.

The racket jars Dan from his intense labours. “What you doin’?” he shrieks. “Get off my car!”

I jump back. But it’s too late. My body and greasy fingerprints have marred the gloss of his favourite friend. Within mere seconds, before I realize he’s leaped in front of me, I feel the heat—hotter than anything I’ve ever previously experienced.

“Take that, you…” The rest of his words are garbled. Someone else might have been able to decipher them, but not me.

***

 The Spot Writers- our members:

 RC Bonitz
http://www.rcbonitz.com

Val Muller
http://www.valmuller.com/blog

Catherine A. MacKenzie
https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Deborah Dera
http://www.deborahdera.com

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The Spot Writers – Chapter 24

This week’s chapter comes from Cathy MacKenzie. Check out her two books of poetry and three books of short stories available on Smashwords, at https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/camack.

 Next week’s chapter will be by Val Muller, author of the CORGI CAPERS, DECEIT ON DORSET DRIVE and newly-released, Halloween-themed CORGI CAPERS: THE SORCERESS OF STONEY BROOK, a mystery series for young detectives, as well as the sci-fi-time-travel-romance FOR WHOM MY HEART BEATS ETERNAL.

 The Spot Writers’ blogs appear at the end of this story. Don’t forget to check them out.

***

 Chapter 24

“Oh, Irene. He is not.”

“Remy, I wouldn’t lie to you. He is. Seriously. And I don’t think you get it.”

“Irene, stop.”

“Remy. Stop and smell the roses. I know you were out with him one night. And I know you had fun. If Jeremy weren’t around, you’d pay more attention to Sam. I know you would.”

“But, Irene. Jeremy aside, I thought you wanted him?”

“Me?” Irene laughed. “No, not me.”

“Really?”

“Yes, really. Hey, I didn’t want to say anything. Sam knows, so I might as well tell you. I’m gay.”

Remy, stunned, stared at Irene. “You’re what?”

“Don’t look at me like I’m a freak or something.”

“No, it’s not that. Not that at all,” Remy said. “That’s your business. Just surprised.”

“Yeah, well, I’ve known since I was a child. Not something I broadcast.”

“Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that. I understand completely. I really do. Like I said, I was just surprised. I had no idea. I thought you were married once?”

“Yeah, I was. A long time ago. Didn’t last. I wonder why.” Irene laughed. “I apologize, too, if I’ve been a bit difficult to get along with lately. It’s not you. I’ll do better. I promise.”

“No need to apologize,” Remy said. “We all go through rough patches every now and then.”

Remy wondered if Irene’s problem, or problems, had to do with her lover, if she even had one. She decided it would be rude to ask if she was involved with anyone. I’ll leave that for another conversation, she thought. Or wait till she volunteers.

“Okay, then. So, is it gonna be a busy day today?” Remy figured she needed to change the subject, get back to business.

“Oh, who knows in this place,” Irene said. “But, I’m telling you. Give Sam another look, okay? I’ve known him for several years, and he really is a nice guy. A really nice guy.”

“You mean you knew him before you started work here?”

“Yes. He’s an old family friend. He was looking for a new receptionist. So, the rest is history, as they say.”

Remy pondered Irene’s words for several seconds. “But, one shouldn’t mix business with pleasure is my philosophy.”

“Hey, you’re a good worker. You have lots of knowledge and all. You’d have no problem getting another job, if you needed to. But, I know you won’t have to. Give him a chance, okay? And now I’m shutting up. The rest is up to you. I’m done talking about it.”

Remy laughed. “Okay, then. No more discussion on Dr. Sam. You’ve made your point. Like you said, it’s up to me now.”

“Yes, back to work. But, remember, I did warn you about him. He’s on a tear.”

***

Even though the day began slowly, it turned busy before Remy had a chance to wonder too much about either Sam or Jeremy. Sam did seem to be upset about something, but Remy stayed out of his way unless it was absolutely necessary. With the office overflowing with patients, she didn’t have to worry about Sam loitering around the front desk, and she was grateful that Irene took the lead if something was needed of Sam so she didn’t have to deal with him.

Remy had brought her lunch, so when the opportunity presented itself, she retreated to the lunch room, grateful for time alone.

***

The Spot Writers- our members:

RC Bonitz

http://www.rcbonitz.com

Val Muller

http://www.valmuller.com/blog

Catherine A. MacKenzie

https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Deborah Dera

http://www.deborahdera.com

Jessica Degarmo

http://www.jessicadegarmo.com/

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